Going for a burton


      • something is ruined or lost
        To indicate that something has been destroyed, damaged or lost, typically through one's own actions or negligence, resulting in negative consequences or outcomes.

      • someone has died
        To signify that someone has died, usually in a sudden or unexpected manner, often in a tragic or unfortunate way.

      • someone has disappeared or gone missing
        To suggest that someone has vanished or gone missing, without any explanation or trace, leaving others confused or concerned about their whereabouts.

    Examples of Going for a burton

    • I'm afraid our presentation went completely wrong, it was like going for a burton.

      This idiom is used to describe a situation or event that has completely failed or gone disastrously wrong, leaving nothing left but ruins. The origins of this idiom are unclear, but it may come from the name Burton, which was once associated with a small village in Derbyshire, England, known for its lace-making industry. It's possible that this idiom refers to a mistake made during the lace-making process, resulting in a completely ruined piece of lace. Alternatively, it may be related to a rugby team from Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire, which had a poor winning record, further reinforcing the association of 'going for a burton' with total failure or disaster.

    • I've never been so embarrassed in my life, it's like going for a burton.

      This idiom is used to describe a situation that has left you feeling completely humiliated or mortified. The meaning is similar to the previous example, but emphasizes the emotional impact of the event.

    • The renovations on my house are a complete disaster, it's like going for a burton.

      This idiom is used to describe a situation where a project, task or proposal has not only failed, but has resulted in significant damage or destruction. It's a vivid way of expressing your frustration and disappointment with the outcome.

    • I never thought my car could break down any worse than it already has, but today it's like going for a burton.

      This idiom is used to describe a situation where a problem or issue has reached an extreme point of failure or destruction. It's a metaphorical way of expressing the seriousness of the situation and the extent of the damage. In this example, the speaker is frustrated and dismayed that their car seems to have reached a point where no further damage or failure is possible. Yet, somehow, things still manage to get worse, leaving them feeling completely defeated.

    • If you say that learning a new language is going for a burton, you mean that it is an impossible or hopeless task.

      This idiom refers to the brand name of a men's undergarment called "Burton" in the 1970s in the UK. The phrase "going for a Burton" was used by a television commercial for this brand as a joke, implying that wearing their undergarment would prevent anything disastrous happening to you. However, when taken out of context, the phrase became a humorous way to express an impossible or hopeless task, equivalent to "going for a six" (a cricket term meaning hitting a six in a cricket match).

    • I've been trying to fix this broken computer for hours, but it seems like I'm going for a burton.

      This example is used when someone feels helpless or frustrated with a task that seems impossible to complete. In this scenario, the person is trying to fix a broken computer, but no matter how hard they try, it seems like nothing is working. This could also be applied to other tasks, such as solving a complex mathematical problem, or trying to repair a faulty appliance.

    • Some people might say that learning a new language from scratch is going for a burton, but with the right teaching methods, it's definitely achievable.

      This is an example of how the idiom can be used in a debatable situation. In this case, some people might consider learning a new language from scratch an impossible task, while others believe that with the right methods or resources, it's doable. The speaker is reassuring the listener that while it may seem like an impossible task, it's not necessarily the case.

    • I realize now that I've been going for a burton by trying to do everything myself. It's time to ask for some help.

      This is an example of the idiom being used to express a change in perspective or realization. In this case, the speaker has been trying to do everything themselves, which they now realize is an impossible task. Instead, they're acknowledging that they need help, implying that they've been wasting their time and efforts trying to complete tasks by themselves. This idiom can be applied to various situations, such as trying to solve a complex problem, complete a task with limited resources, or manage a project with a small team.


    The idiom "going for a burton" is typically used to express a negative outcome or consequence, such as something being ruined, lost, or destroyed. It can also refer to the sudden or unexpected death of someone, or their sudden disappearance. In all cases, the idiom conveys a sense of disappointment, regret, or loss.

    Origin of "Going for a burton"

    The origin of this idiom is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the British military during World War II. It is said that the expression was used by pilots to describe a plane that had crashed or been shot down. The phrase "going for a burton" was derived from "going for a Burton," which referred to the popular brand of beer, Burton Ale. The idea was that when a plane crashed, it was like the beer going down the drain.

    Another theory suggests that the idiom originated from the British slang term "burton," which was used to describe a fool or someone who had made a mistake. This could explain the use of the idiom to describe something being ruined or lost due to one's own actions.

    Overall, the idiom "going for a burton" is believed to have originated in the British military and has since become a common phrase used to convey a sense of disappointment or loss. Its exact origin may be unclear, but its usage and meaning have remained consistent over time.